What Bill Hybels Wants Every Pastor To Know

June 24, 2012

…. how he got into counseling. Yes, you read that right! Bill Hybels really wants you to know that he’s in counseling, and he believes you should be too. I happen to agree with Bill.

Did you know they actually require counselors to be in therapy in order to become a counselor, because you can’t give away what you don’t have? Seems to make sense.

How much more important for pastors! We’re dealing with people’s eternity! And often the way we get there is helping them deal emotionally in healthy ways. Yet, most of us don’t know how either, and need just as much help as our people do.

I encourage you to watch, listen, pray, discern. Enjoy!

REWORK … I Gotta Read It! You Do Too!

March 12, 2010

I haven’t read this book yet, but after reading this post at TimSchraeder.com, I will be soon! Thanks for concisely boiling this down for us Tim!

10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About Working for a Church

I’m nearing the 10-year mark of being a church employee. That practically makes me a veteran. Ten years, four churches and millions of cups of Starbucks later [I’m convinced that’s the drug of choice for church workers] I’ve had a first hand-look at how the church works [by work I mean how it functions day-to-day in the church office] and after reading REWORK I’m convinced we’ve got some things that drive me crazy that need to change.

Before I continue, let me say this: I love what I do. Every single day [except meeting days] I’m excited to be a part of the life of the Church. It’s an immense privilege to be able to do what I do and I wouldn’t trade it for anything…  well, most of the time.

With that… here’s 10 Things That Drive Me Crazy About Working for a Church

1. We are really good at burning people out.

For some reason we feel like working long hours against ridiculous timelines and neglecting our personal lives, health, or families is a good idea… as long as it’s for God.

Not so much.

The average church employee stays at a church for about 2 years before they peace out.

“It doesn’t pay to be a workaholic. Instead of getting more done and being on top of your game, you actually start a chain reaction that results in decreased productivity, poor morale, and lazy decisions. And don’t forget the inevitable crash that’ll hit you soon enough.”

We all need to learn one simple word: NO. Even though something may be for a great cause, it’s not worth losing your soul to make it happen.

2. We focus way too much on what we don’t have.

One of the most common complaints I hear from church staff members has something to do with what they don’t have.

In the Gospel account of the feeding of the 5,000 all they had to start with was 5 loves and 2 fish, but in the end, there was more than enough.

“Constraints are advantages in disguise. Limited resources force you to make do with what you’ve got. There’s no room for waste. And that forces you to be creative.”

Celebrate simplicity. Remember God can take nothing and make it into something.

3. We are afraid of change.

I guarantee we’ve all been a meeting where the phrase, “well we heard people say _____________ about _____________….”

Fill in the blanks… the music was too loud, they didn’t like that message, they don’t like this, they don’t like that…

These conversations usually center on a sensitive topic in the church: change.

And how do we respond? We quickly turn down the volume, change our minds, or reverse a decision.

“Sometimes you need to go ahead with a decision you believe in, even if it’s unpopular… remember negative reactions are almost always louder and more passionate than positive ones… so when people complain… let them know you’re listening. Show them you’re aware of what they’re saying. But explain that you’re going to let it go for awhile and see what happens.”

Give change time and be more concerned with what the voice of God is saying to you and let that influence you more than the voices of other people.

4. We use “let me pray about it” as an excuse to get out of making decisions.

I absolutely believe it’s important to pray about major decisions that impact the life of the Church – we shouldn’t move unless we feel God leading us. But all too often we use the “let me pray about that” card to delay simple decisions.

“Whenever you can, swap “Let’s [pray] about it” for “Let’s decide on it.” Commit to making decisions. You’re as likely to make a great call today as you are tomorrow. Don’t make things worse by overanalyzing and delaying before you even get going.”

Pray about what’s important but don’t sweat the small stuff… just make the call and ask for forgiveness later if need be.

5. We LOVE meetings.

For some reason we love meetings. Planning meetings, prayer meetings, planning meetings for prayer meetings. I feel like we have entirely too many and lose valuable time we could be devoting to things that matter. 

“Meetings are toxic. If it only takes seven minutes to meet a meeting’s goal, then that’s all the time you should spend. Don’t stretch seven into thirty. Think about the time you’re actually losing and ask yourself if it’s really worth it.”

What’s one meeting you could condense or remove from your schedule? DO IT!

6. We try to do way too much.

Most churches are hyperactive and never sleep. We thrive on activity. The whole “less is more” thing hasn’t sunk in yet.

What if we focused on doing a few things REALLY well l instead of doing a million things half-aced? << that’s my PG version

“Cut your ambition in half. Lots of things get better as they get shorter. Getting to great starts by cutting out stuff that’s merely good.”

What are some good things you’re doing that could be sacrificed for great things that will make a greater impact?

7. We try to be something we’re not.

If I see one more 40somethings pastor dressed in Abercrombie so help me…

Ok, but for real… not just pastors but churches in general tend to have a problem of trying to be something they’re not.

“Don’t be afraid to show your flaws. Imperfections are real and people respond to real. There’s a beauty to imperfection. So talk like you really talk. Reveal things that others are unwilling to discuss. Be upfront about your shortcomings. It’s OK if it’s not perfect. You might not seem professional, but you will seem a lot more genuine.”

BE YOU!

8. We spend too much time looking at other churches.

We spend way too much time looking at what other churches are doing, be it a church across the country or the church across town. It’s great to watch and learn from others’ successes, but if you look at other churches as you competition your focus is waaaay off.

“Focus on competitors too much and you will wind up diluting your own vision. Your chances of coming up with something fresh go way down when you keep feeding your brain other people’s ideas. You become reactionary instead of visionary.”

Your church has a unique and specific role it’s meant to play in the life of your community. If your church ceased to exist, what would people miss? Whatever that is should be where you focus your time and energy.

9. We worry about people leaving.

We’re quick to cater to the needs [or demands] of people who have been around for a while instead of focusing the needs of people who are new.

We should spend more time figuring out how to create a wider front door instead of focusing on how we can “close the back door”… even if that means losing people who give us a lot of money [there, I said it].

“Scaring away new [people] is worse than losing old [ones]. Make sure you make it easy for [new] people to get on board. That’s where your continued growth potential lies. People and situations change. You can’t be everything to everyone. [Churches] need to be true to a type of [person] than a specific [person] with changing needs.”

10. We don’t feel trusted.

For whatever reason churches tend thrive in a weird culture of mistrust. It’s not or conducive to a positive working environment. Some churches have crazy rules, policies and procedures that create layers of red tape that, while probably well-intentioned, communicate a lack of trust.

“When you treat people like children, you get children’s work. Yet that’s exactly how a lot of companies treat their employees. When everything constantly needs approval, you create a culture of nonthinkers. You create a boss-versus-worker relationship that screams, ‘I don’t trust you.’”

This is one I don’t have a quick answer to but know it’s something I’ve experienced and something I hear about consistently from others who are in the trenches. BUT, I will say working in a church that has a trusting environment, I’ve never felt so empowered to do my job and that has fueled my productivity exponentially.

Final Thoughts…

Church work is tricky but I will say the blessings have far outweighed the frustrations.

The challenge of being on staff at a church lies in the fact that we don’t have the option to leave our work at the end of the day.  Our work is deeply connected to what we believe and to our faith community. It’s easy to get passionate about what we do because we do is attached to something that’s incredibly personal to us.  We’ve got to learn the discipline of drawing boundaries.

While the Church has endured throughout the ages, each generation has had its unique challenges and opportunities. I believe the challenge and opportunity facing next generation leaders lies in how we manage and steward the resources we’ve been blessed with.

We’ve never been more resourced than we are today… which is why things like REWORK are important for us to latch on to. We don’t need to change what we do [connecting people to Christ], we need to change how we work.

My prayer is that we can REWORK and do the work God has called us to do, not simply by applying business ideas, but by seeking God, being led by His Spirit and serving the Church with excellence and humility.

“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart…” – Colossians 3:23

This post was inspired by reading REWORK by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson of 37signals. It’s an important book that I think should be required reading for any next generation church leader.

Summer Days Got You In A Daze?

June 23, 2009

Summer brings with it all of its splendor and, hopefully, the anticipation of some down time with family and friends. How are you facing it this year? Are you excited about, ready for some time to refresh relationships, maybe see some friends or family you haven’t seen in a while? Or are you feeling like closing the door on your bedroom, ready for somebody to wake you up when it’s time to go back to work?

There are lots of great assessment tools available to help you gauge your burnout potential and current status. I want to suggest one here that can give you an idea of where you stand as you dive into Summer. This is a perfect time in ministry life to wind down, ease back, relax a little more and let the rest rejuvenate and restore. Sometimes it can be helpful to know where you’re at in your own body, mind and soul, and what your level of need is to be refreshed.

Maybe it will help you plan what kind of vacation you really need this year. Go ahead, try it out.

Good Stuff Coming From Gary Lamb’s Pain

June 20, 2009

When I speak of anything good coming from someone’s pain, it’s not news to any real leader. The best stuff of life and ministry, especially when in leadership, comes through pain. We have all felt the sting of where Gary is at in one way, shape or form. Maybe not in ways disqualifying you from ministry (though maybe so), but maybe painful in other ways we could go on and on about.

Disappointment …. discouragement …. half-heartedness from leaders (or ourselves) …. betrayal …. gossip that cuts to the core …. (you fill in this blank)

Among the so many things being said (and that will be said again at someone else’s expense and pain), I have found a few things that stand out. Ironically to me, the things standing out are being said not by those well-known, but by those who are faithfully plowing the ground God has given them and have lasted well.

One such person is Marty Duren. I haven’t met him, but I’ve perused his blog some. And this week I came across his “Thoughts Regarding Fallen Pastors”. Worth your time to read and process. Good stuff.

If you have found like material that isn’t being said by everyone else, please share it in the comments.

Healthy Follow-Up to Gary Lamb Post

June 18, 2009

After last week’s post about the resignation of Pastor Gary Lamb due to an affair with his assistant, a good friend of mine, who is also a Pastor, suggested I look at a video teaching by Pastor Wayne Cordeiro, called “The Heart of a Champion”.

Friends, this video is worth your time and note-taking. It is filled with rich wisdom on checking our own hearts in days like these. Situations like Gary’s are an unfortunate “dime a dozen”. It was Gary last week, who will it be next week? Not trying to be morbid or hopeless, just truthful.

Truth be known, we are ALL susceptible to failure, because we are human. Nothing more, nothing less. You might be living in the proverbial phone booth, thinking that your Superman cape and superpowers keep you from walking a road like Gary’s, but the bottom line is, you are only fooling yourself.

It takes intentionality and truth-telling that is hard and uneasy and awkward. Take the time to go through this video. Bring it to your Staff, Church Council, or whatever group of leaders you see fit. Whatever you do, do something intentional today to affair-proof your own marriage.

If You’re Getting Very Sleepy….

June 12, 2009

I’ve posted about sleep before here. Napping, in particular. Numerous studies show that most of us are NOT getting the amount or the quality of sleep that we need to be have our internal batteries restored to full usage each morning.

While none of us will have perfect sleep, we all have habits that can be utilized to improve this crucial area of our lives. The Wall Street Journal had a great column on this, including some good tips and some incredible, albeit somewhat costy, tools. One quote that encouraged use of monitoring devices that was really good, stated, “If you can measure it, you can manage it.”

Read the article here.

Redeeming the Secular

June 11, 2009

I know this post may cause some controversy, especially following my last post. However, when my wife encouraged me to read this column from the LA Times’ Chris Erskine, I immediately thought of how some of the things we lament in our culture can truly be redeemed. This is one of those things.

Read on, for those who are married, please enjoy, and feel free to leave any comments you feel appropriate. Really, it’s OK, ….. you’re not gonna hurt my feelings. I just think this is funny, and we could all use a good chuckle. Some may even be brave enough to try it, but please, ONLY with your spouse!

Baring his soul . . . and more

OK, sexting his wife was a snap decision and maybe he’ll regret it later.
June 6, 2009

Keeping a relationship alive these days isn’t easy. So, in an effort to demonstrate my commitment, I just sexted my wife of 27 years — that is, I have sent her a revealing photo taken with my cellphone.

Love, says H.L. Mencken, is merely “a state of perceptual anesthesia.”

Now, I know my parents would never approve, but I don’t care anymore what they think. They’re not the boss of me.

And I don’t see what’s so wrong with sexting. It’s a declaration of love, much like a wedding ring or a ginormous dragon tattoo, from your hipbone to your neck. At least I didn’t do that.

In my case, I didn’t do anything bad to my body. I just lifted my Dodger T-shirt. Aim. Snap. Send.

Now, I know what you’re wondering. What happens when Posh eventually dumps you? Wonder if, out of spite, your wife distributes your sexy photo to her friends (the Yummy Mummies), and then the revealing photo makes its way all over the Internet and onto their Facebook pages, which they’ve suddenly flocked to like pigeons to popcorn? Facebook, the new merlot.

Anyway, suppose that happens, then what? You know how those Yummy Mummies are — they can’t keep a secret, especially not a sexy one.

You know, you just can’t worry about what other people think. I love Posh and she loves me. Besides, I’m tired of parents getting all judgmental over everything us kids do. My mom, she’s 84 now, won’t even let me get my tongue pierced. I said, “Mom, back off, OK? Gimme my space! I’m old enough to disgrace myself in any way I see fit!!!!”

Then I cried a little. Then I called Posh and we talked for, like, four hours.

::

If you’re not familiar with “sexting,” here’s the deal. Beginning a year or two ago, teenagers (usually girls) began sending naked or semi-naked cellphone photos of themselves to the loves of their lives.

At first blush — assuming anyone blushes anymore — this moronic gesture seemed mostly harmless. Sure, it compromised the poor girl’s dignity and any sense of self-worth. But that’s OK. Dignity and self-worth are now available at most major department stores and online.

The only permanent drawback to sexting is that a teenage girl can be a rather fickle creature. Sometimes, the love of her life turns out to be the love of her week.

So, in practice, when the girlfriends eventually dumped the boys, some of the jilted boys also forgot their sense of dignity and distributed the embarrassing shots to their friends, who sent it to their friends, till pretty much everyone in the world had it.

This, my friends, is how sexting got such a lousy, undeserved reputation.

This, I assure you, will never happen to me.

Aim. Snap. Send.

::

It’s not till now — yesterday morning, actually — that dads like me started sexting, meaning the trend may have run its course, who knows. That would be unfortunate. As with many things, once a dad does it, it’s never really cool again. Like when your old man started watching “Idol.”

Or Mom got her mitts on Facebook.

But let me just say this: Sexting rocks! Sexting is exciting! It made me feel all sexy again, and I didn’t even need to take any of those pills that can give you a big honkin’ headache and sometimes, occasionally kill you. All I had to do was act on impulse and lift my shirt.

I also included a little note: “YOU+ME 4-EVER!”

What did Posh do? Well, I sent the sext-message from the next room, and when Posh received it, she yelped a little, then gagged, then got all dizzy and passed out. It was like our honeymoon all over again. I kissed her to consciousness, then we went out for a nice lunch.

Aim. Snap. Delete.

I Am Second, Are You?

December 8, 2008

Have you seen the new website creeping up – iamsecond.com? It’s quite insightful.

Anyway, Pete Briscoe, Pastor of Bent Tree Fellowship in Texas, shares a bit of his testimony that I think is great for Pastors to hear. It’s only a few minutes, but may shake you deep inside.

Click here to see it.

A Video Tell-All On Us Pastors?

November 29, 2008

ht: Anne Jackson

Distractions Extraordinaire

October 1, 2008

You don’t have to be in ministry to know both the rush and frustration of distractions. We want to know how we can avoid them, when the truth is that we can’t. Tasks we haven’t thought of, crises that we didn’t anticipate and disasters that no one could ever predict come upon us. They just do. Let alone the distractions we allow for one reason or another.

I am an email fiend if there ever was one, love Twitter, and think you should follow me for the fun of it. At the same time, I try to have some semblance of availability as a Pastor that doesn’t border on or cross the line of neuroticism. There are some distractions that are controllable, if we so choose. I know I must work at limiting them for the good of my own soul.

Thanks to my friend, Bob Hyatt, I quote Ruth Haley Barton, from her book, Sacred Rhythms, as follows:

“It’s not that I am averse to technology; I too have a cell phone, an office phone, a home phone and an email address, and they are much needed. However, I am aware of longings that run much deeper than what technology can address. I am noticing that the more I fill my life with the convenience of technology, the emptier I become in the places of my deepest longing. I long for the beauty and substance of being in the presence of those I love, even though it is less convenient. I long for spacious, thoughtful conversation even though it is less efficient. I long to be connected with my authentic self, even though it means being inaccessible to others at time. I long to be one who waits and listens deeply for the still, small voice of God, even if it means I must unplug from technology in order to become quiet enough to hear.

Constant noise, interruption and drivenness to be more productive cut us off from or at least interrupt the direct experience of God and other human beings, and this is more isolating than we realize. Because we are experiencing less meaningful and divine connection, we are emptier relationally, and we try harder and harder to fill that loneliness with even more noise and stimulation. In so doing we lose touch with the quieter and more subtler experiences of God within.

This is a vicious cycle indeed.”

Well said, don’t you think? If you’re NOT thinking about it or can’t grasp it, therein may lie the problem of which we speak. Just a thought!

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Help When You Hurt

Who ministers to the Minister when you're hurting? Many do, and they can be found on this listing. Please find a friend in your area and seek the help you need today.
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A Place For You

Many Pastors are not aware that all over the country are a number of places you can retreat to for a number of given reasons or purposes. Find some of them here, get there, and find your pace!
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